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A significant monument in the region's history

The Sepulchral Chapel of the Grand Duchy

Marktplatz in Karlsruhe, engraving by Johann Gabriel Friedrich Poppel. Image: Sandra Eberle
Told for more than a hundred years

The umbrella in

the pyramid

In 1889, one of the burial places of the House of Baden almost fell victim to another monument: the pyramid. At the time, a small delegation inspected the pyramid space, among them Friedrich Hemberger, the architect of the sepulchral chapel.

Portrait of Emperor Wilhelm I. Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain

Emperor Wilhelm I.

A memorial for Emperor Wilhelm I

The fateful year of 1888: Not only did the young Prince Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden die in this year, his grandfather Emperor Wilhelm I did as well. Like many other cities, the city of Karlsruhe intended to create a monument for him. They considered constructing it on the Marktplatz, exactly where the founder of Karlsruhe, Margrave Karl Wilhelm von Baden-Durlach, lay buried under the pyramid.

The first inspection of the pyramid

To survey the pyramid from the inside—it had never before been entered—a small group of people entered the pyramid in July of 1889. Among those present were Grand Duke Friedrich I and court counselor Friedrich Hemberger, the architect who was simultaneously working with his son on the early construction of the new sepulchral chapel. Karl Wilhelm's coffin could not be seen, as the crypt itself had been walled over. Only the space above, at ground level, was and is accessible. This space contains a stone tablet with a layout of the city.

Marktplatz in Karlsruhe, engraving by Johann Gabriel Friedrich Poppel. Image: Sandra Eberle

The pyramid in the central square of Karlsruhe.

An unusual piece of evidence

Entering the chamber was complicated by the slab positioned over the entrance, which could only be opened with great effort. It was carefully closed again after the viewing. It was only afterwards that Hemberger noticed that he had likely left his umbrella behind ... and this umbrella has remained in the pyramid as evidence of the visit. For more than a hundred years, the story of the forgotten umbrella has been told in Karlsruhe. In the end, the memorial for Emperor Wilhelm was constructed in another location: at Mühlberger Gate.

The pyramid in the Marktplatz, Karlsruhe. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Sandra Eberle

The pyramid: both a grave and a tomb.

The second inspection

1998: During the planning period for the subway, the interior of the pyramid was inspected once again. Prince Bernhard von Baden was one of the party. Through a specially drilled hole into the crypt, it was possible to identify the slightly damaged coffin of Karl Wilhelm, with his bones and the fabric of his garments. In the accessible chamber above, there was a tennis ball and a broom handle: They likely reached the chamber through the ventilation shafts. However, Hemberger's umbrella was nowhere to be found! The story was disproven; and thus became a new anecdote in the history of the burial places of Baden.

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